Window walk of wonder

You can’t say ‘Christmas windows’ and ‘the West End’ to any long term Novocastrian without them sighing, gazing into the far distance and uttering two forlorn words ‘The Store’. This (former) emporium’s Christmas windows were legendary. While their window dressing was spectacular week to week, Christmas was an opportunity for The Store to excel. The interior of the building was decorated with classic ornaments and ropes of tinsel, a staff choir would set up and they would serenade customers with Christmas carols as they shopped.

the Store. circ 1954

The Store

The Store closed in 1981 after trading for 83 years and since then the West End Christmas celebrations seemed to enter a sad slump. Few businesses, if any, decorated their windows and there was little Christmas celebrating on the streets. That’s true no more. This year we’ve stepped up and are actively involved in Newcastle Now’s shop front competition, organised as part of its Now, That’s a Newcastle Christmas campaign.

I love smart collaboration and this is smart: local artists were matched with businesses which have shop fronts along the city’s streets, the businesses get an original Christmas shop front window created by an artist, in turn the artist has been given a space in which to create their Yuletide masterpiece. Many of the windows are activated at night, giving them another dimension and making them a true 24-hour spirit of Christmas experience. It is creative, contemporary placemaking at its best.

The West End has risen to the challenge. Our windows are a sheer delight and when the prizes are handed out we deserve to get a bunch.

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The best way to appreciate the city-wide Christmas windows is to take yourself around by foot, bike, skateboard or Segway – but make sure you start, of course, in the West End.

The locations of the windows in the West End (and the rest of the city) can be found on a downloadable map here: http://www.newcastlenow.org.au/christmas.

Kimberly O’Sullivan

Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: kimberly@netspace.net.au; 0413 250 155.

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